September 28, 2016 9:00 AM
A lot of ire has been cast towards Governor Nathan Deal by some conservatives and teachers over the Opportunity School Districts. Opposition to the OSD amendment point towards the big, bad state government “overreaching” and circumventing local control of schools….even though the amendment allows for the state to step in after a school fails to meet metrics for three years in a row. Conservatives are against more government, right? Well, I’d argue that conservatism isn’t (shouldn’t) be against government for government’s sake, but rather should be conservative in application of government. In other words, it’s not the first tool we reach for in our tool belt.
Scott Johnson, former Cobb County GOP chairman, former 11th District GOP chairman, and current state school board member, penned an op-ed in support of the OSD amendment. In his essay, he notes that the driving force behind this amendment is to help break children out of failing schools:
A school that fails to properly educate its students perpetuates cycles of poverty and increases the likelihood of incarceration. For many students, educational opportunities provide the best chance to break out of these cycles. And for many of these same students, the status quo is not working.
Opponents of this plan offer nothing as an alternative but to keep doing the same old things and hope for a better result. But hope is not a strategy and we know that continuing with a failed process nearly always produces the same failed results. I ask those who recoil at the thought of this solution, which of you is willing to enroll your child in a one of these schools you are so ardent to protect?
That’s a good question. Unfortunately, opponents have yet to provide alternative plans to help provide a quality education to children in Georgia. Rather than discussing alternatives, opponents have decided to launch a last-ditch effort to prevent the implementation of the OSD, if approved, by filing a lawsuit. From a presser we received from Opportunity for All Georgia Students:
Opponents of the Opportunity School District today filed a last-minute lawsuit intended to prevent the state from rescuing children trapped in chronically failing schools.
“This is a last-minute media stunt engineered by outside special interest groups in order to generate publicity,” said Tom Willis, director of the Opportunity for All Georgia Students coalition. “This frivolous lawsuit demonstrates the depths to which some outside groups will go to defend the status quo. They are playing political games with the futures of 68,000 students trapped in failing schools. It’s unconscionable to hold these students hostage simply to generate news headlines.”
The 68,000 students trapped in 127 failing schools across Georgia, through no fault of their own, deserve the same opportunities as other children. The Opportunity School District would provide that chance. Learn more here
It’s time to try something different. Republicans claim to be the “Party of Ideas”, and this is something that is being tried in other southern states (with positive results). A collective digging heels into the dirt for the sake of “not growing government” without offering alternatives other than the status quo will not do anything to help these students. My understanding is that the OSD amendment will include involvement of parents and teachers (and why wouldn’t it since they would know the area the best), so I believe it’s something worth trying.